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May 8, 1998     The Message
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May 8, 1998

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12 The Message b for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana Cardinal urges Congress: Ban human By NANCY FRAZIER O'BRIEN Catholic News Service WASHINGTON (CNS)  Congress "should enact a meaningful ban on human cloning without further delay/' the head of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Pro- Life Activities said in a letter. Along with the letter, Boston Cardinal Bernard E Law, who chairs the com- mittee, sent each member of Congress an information packet addressing what he called the "misleading argu- ments" against a federal ban on human cloning. "Past congressional efforts to address this issue have been stymied by three objections"  that such a ban "would block essential medical research," that no one can define what a humai embryo is, and that no one knows whether human cloning can produce an embryo, the cardinal said. But the 20-page information packet was designed to refute those objections with facts. Cardinal Law noted in the April 24 letter that the National Institutes of Health's Human Embryo Research Panel, the National Bioethics Advisory Com- mission "and the relevant scientific literature agree that from the one-celled stage onwards, the being produced by human fertilization  or by human cloning using the technique that produced 'Dolly' the sheep  is a developing human embryo." He said "the argument that cloning must be used to produce human embryos for destructive experiments if medical research is toadvance lacks a basis in fact." Cardinal Law said there is "almost universal sup- port" for the idea that human embryos must never be created merely for experimental purposes and their eventual destruction. "Therefore it is cause for amazement that Congress is hesitating to enact a genuine ban on human cloning on the grounds that some biotechnology companies say the law must protect the use of cloning to produce and then discard 'research embryos,"' he said. In testimony and letters to Congress earlier this year, representatives of the U.S. Catholic bishops have backed a proposal by Sens. Christopher S. Bond, R-Mo., and William H. Frist, R-Tenn., to prohibit the use of somatic cell nuclear transfer technology for purposes of human cloning. But the bishops have opposed a proposal by Sens. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., which would only prohibit the implantation into a woman's womb any embryo resulting from human cloning. Such a measure "does not ban cloning but attacks innocent human beings who, through no fault of their own, are produced by cloning," said Gail Quinn, executive director of the pro-life secretariat, in a Febru- ary letter to senators. The Kennedy-Feinstein bill, S. 1602, has not yet come to the Senate for the vote, but the Bond-Frist measure, S. 1601, failed in February to gain the two-thirds major- ity needed to overcome a filibuster against it. A new effort to vote on the latter legislation was expected soon. The information packet distributed to ( the pro-life secretariat included Feb. 1 cloning to a House subcc H. Keeler of Baltimore; several issues; an opinion column on the Doerflinger of the secretariat; and Quinn's letter Senate. Meanwhile in Michigan, C sage in the state Senate of a human cloning. "With a 37-0 vote, the stated that human life is ic research on the fringe," said ident for public policy at the Michigan .... ference. uman embryos must never merely for experimental "Using a laboratory procedure that has human love, responsibility or to provide certain kinds of ifications is wrong," he added for their action." The four-bill package now must be Michigan House and be signed by : :: Engler in order to become law. Legislation has been proposed in at ban human cloning. .NFP offers new hope for post-partum in the treatment of various women's health problems rang- ing from PMS and endometrio- sis to repeat miscarriage and infertility. Because women's hor- mones influence these ailments, Dr. Hilgers has developed and uses hormonal-based therapies, when appropriate, to treat cases such as postpartum depression. A French physician wrote the first medical description relating a woman's mental health to her hormonal changes according to Dr. Katharina Dalton, British physician and author of The Pre- menstrual Syndrome and Prog- esterone Therapy (1984). In 1943, another physician, Dr. Schmidt, also recognized that one of his patients suffered mental health problems related to the times of her hormonal changes. Dr. Couples use the Natural Fam- ily Planning approach not only to care for their fertility, but also to monitor and maintain the woman's procreative and gyne- cologic health. Doctors who use NEWS AND COMMENTARY By SOOZI SCHELLER Contributing writer NFP to diagnose women's health problems have an advan- tage in helping these couples because they can view an accu- rate portrait of the woman's hor- monal activity before they order tests and treatment. For the last 25 years, Dr. Thomas J. Hilgers and his colleagues at the Pope Paul VI Institute for the Study of Human Reproduction have been using NFP records to assist Church-affiliated scholar approves anti-impotence pill Schmidt used injections of prog- esterone to treat his patient. Dr. Dalton summarizes Dr. Schmidt's results in her book, noting, "In spite of the dread of the hypo- dermics the patient readily admitted that the injections had a most soothing effect. The cumulative action of the hor- mone [progesterone] was very apparent. There was practically a minor change of personality. The patient became more con- genial .... Her mental acumen was far superior to that noted in any of the normal phases since the onset of psychosis. There was no indication of recur- rence." Because certain progesterone therapies, like the early one described above, pose no harm to the pregnant or breast feeding mother and baby, Dr. Hilgers and his colleagues at the Pope Paul VI Institute order proges- terone therapy for mothers who come to their medical practice with symptoms of post-partum depression. "Our results have been dramatic! I've seen moth- ers experiencing post-partum depression receive relief from their symptoms within an hour!," reports Dr. Hilgers. At the Pope Paul VI Institute and elsewhere, medical doctors use certain progesterone thera- pies to prevent post-partum depression in mothers they already know to be at risk. Post-partum depression has high recurrence rates. For 221 women who experienced post-partum depression for which they sought medical treatment, Dr. Dalton found that 68 percent of them experienced post-partum depression again with a subse- quent pregnancy. The recur- rence rate is higher f6r'those mothers who required hospital- ization; Dr. Dalton found 84 per- cent of them experienced post-partum depression with a subsequent pregnancy. But she has also documented the suc- cess of progesterone therapy in preventing post-partum depres- sion! Using progesterone thera- py with a very high risk group of pregnant mothers, the inci- dence of post-partum depres- sion fell from ,91 percent to six percent. Because of these results she states, "One looks ahead to the day when prophylactic progesterone therapy will be routine, and post-natal depres- sion a rarity." Progesterone therapies, as described by Dr. Dalton, are an important component of the Creighton Model Natural Fam- By LYNNE WEIL Cathoc News Service. ROME (CNS)  A church- affiliated bioethics scholar spoke of his approval of a new anti- impotence pill months before it went on sale in the United States. Antonio Spagnolo, who teach- es at the Catholic University of Rome, said in the Italian journal Medicine and Morals in late 1997 that clinical trials conducted on the pill now known as Vmgra had produced "encouraging results." Viagra, introduced into the U.S. market in early April by the Pfizer pharmaceutical company, was to reach Italy and other countries later in the year. Although some women have taken the drug, as well as healthy men interested in improving their sexual stamina, Viagra's principal users have been men with problems achieving or maintaining erections. Spagnolo wrote that taking the drug was better from an ethical standpoint than a number of other impotence therapies. Spagnolo said further studies of its effects, including potential side-effects, were still needed in order to make laboratory research complete. Pfizer spokesmen said they had received "Vatican approval" for Viagra, but Spagnolo told Catholic News Service April 27 that he knew of no such official endorsement. ,: : i i ily Planning to family who make nificant with a Practitioner or tant risk for before it example of ning! FoI oe of Family Mary's 485 4110; tion I-los in Jasper Americas cennes at (81 CO ural Family the Diocese call St. Mary 485-4265. Thirty Natural are Health 485-4110. NFP t supplies for o ST. MA medical news . from a Catholic perspect,ve is Health Care a courtesy of Services